Our experience of human life and development, as well as our observation of the natural world, fails, generally, to provide overt evidence of a soul or soul-action. Under certain circumstances, however, the action of the soul is revealed or intimated, and as spiritual development takes place, it begins to play a larger and more central role in the understanding, will and actions of the individual undergoing that process. For some, it occurs as a result of a life and death crisis, for others it comes through intense devotion or a practice of some form of concentration or meditation or yogic discipline, for others still it may come as a result of a vision quest or as the result of an utter distaste for the life of the world and its many sorrows, failures, weaknesses or incomprehensible demands.
The evolution of consciousness develops systematically and the action of the soul as a driver of the process in the individual can take place behind the scenes as the focus initially is on the development of the body, then the vital force, then the mental powers. Once these are all active, and integrating their action into one another, the time for the next phase of development requires a more visible soul-action.
Sri Aurobindo uses the term “psychic being” which should not be confused with what is called “psychic” in today’s modern terminology. The psychic being is the soul-entity. It is not related to fortune-telling or manifestation of some kind of “psychic powers” as understood today. His use of the term is more precisely to be understood as the soul and psychic-action is soul-action.
Sri Aurobindo writes in The Life Divine: “Intimations rise to our surface from the psyche, but our mind does not detect their source; it takes them for its own activities because, before even they come to the surface, they are clothed in mental substance: thus ignorant of their authority, it follows or does not follow them according to its bent or turn at the moment. If the mind obeys the urge of the vital ego, then there is little chance of the psychic at all controlling the nature or manifesting in us something of its secret spiritual stuff and native movement; or, if the mind is over-confident to act in its own smaller light, attached to its own judgment, will and action of knowledge, then also the soul will remain veiled and quiescent and wait for the mind’s farther evolution. For the psychic part within is there to support the natural evolution, and the first natural evolution must be the development of body, life and mind, successively, and these must act each in its own kind or together in their ill-assorted partnership in order to grow and have experience and evolve. The soul gathers the essence of all our mental, vital and bodily experience and assimilates it for the farther evolution of our existence in Nature; but this action is occult and not obtruded on the surface. In the early material and vital stages of the evolution of being there is indeed no consciousness of soul; there are psychic activities, but the instrumentation , the form of these activities are vital and physical, — or mental when the mind is active. For even the mind, so long as it is primitive or is developed but still to external, does not recognise their deeper character.”